Columbus Day 2019 occurs on the second Monday in October. What exactly do we celebrate on Columbus Day? Here’s a brief history of the holiday.
What is Columbus Day?
Columbus Day is a federal U.S. holiday that commemorates the voyage and landing of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492.
The anniversary of his landing in the New World was first formally celebrated in 1792, by the Columbian Order (Society of St. Tammany) in New York City.
When is Columbus Day?
Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October each year. This means that the date changes each year. See dates below:
|2019||Monday, October 14|
|2020||Monday, October 12|
|2021||Monday, October 11|
Columbus Day History
In Christopher Columbus’s day, scholars knew that the world was round; the fact dated from the ancient Greeks. People assumed that a ship traveling west from Europe would sail clear through to Asia. However, many believed that such a westward journey was impossible. Columbus, an Italian, was convinced otherwise and persuaded King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to sponsor his exploration and search for riches.
On October 12, 1492, Columbus landed on a small island in the Bahamas, convinced that he had reached his destination of Asia. Although he was not the first European to discover the Americas (Vikings, among others, had visited before), his journey sparked enthusiasm for European exploration of the hemisphere.
The first celebration of Columbus’s landing in the New World took place in 1792. It was organized by the Columbian Order (Society of St. Tammany) in New York City. In 1937, the occasion was declared a national holiday by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Columbus Day has been observed on the second Monday of October since 1971. Many celebrate Italian-American heritage on this day.
The observance of Columbus Day is not without controversy. European exploration brought disease, harsh treatment, and devastation to the lives of the indigenous people of the Americas. Some areas of the United States choose to honor Native American culture on this day instead. Since 1992, this state and city holiday has been referred to as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
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